Depth vs Sensitivity: The View from my Foxhole


Hero Member
Jan 19, 2014
Central Florida
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Detector(s) used
Deus II, EQX 800
Primary Interest:
Beach & Shallow Water Hunting
On any evaluation I’ve ever read of a given detector or a head to head comparison, the discussion invariably reverts to the subject of raw detectable depth—it seems the “holy grail” of evaluating a detectors worth can be answered with these two questions. “How deep is detector A? Is it deeper than detector B?”

Many years ago, I convinced myself that sensitivity and reactivity were far more important to me than raw depth. I zeroed in on sensitivity and reactivity as it relates to separation and identification at various depths and under various soil/sand conditions. Given that, all the depth testing I ever did focused on sensitivity at a given depth rather than raw detectable depth under a variety of conditions we find in the field. Why?

Detectable depth is affected/impacted/determined by many more external factors than just the sophistication of the detector’s internal technology alone. Such factors as soil/sand composition, moisture and mineralization levels, the target’s metallurgical composition, orientation in the soil/sand and level of degradation/condition and even the overall amount of EMI in the area.

Granted, sensitivity can also be affected by these same factors and hamper any detectors ability to properly and consistently detect and identify the target. However, I’m more impressed by a detector that can accurately identify a target or separate it from junk at a given depth than one which can merely “see” the target at that same or similar depth but can’t identify or separate it from the junk.

While I’m not summarily discounting detectable depth as a desirable capability in a detector, I value its degree of sensitivity more so which enables it to accurately identify and separate the target from that ever present trash. However, as I always say, that’s just me and the view from my foxhole. Your preferences may very well differ.


Gold Member
Nov 22, 2012
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Detector(s) used
XP Deus II
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All Treasure Hunting
Good points. It's the operator and the discrimination capabilities of any machine that make the difference. Plus, like it or not, you get what you pay for. Seems to be very true with metal detectors.

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